The status of the UVF’s ceasefire is again being questioned after the attempted murder of a 30-year old man in Bangor, County Down.
James ‘Hammy’ Hamilton was shot three times in the chest on Monday in the latest attempt by loyalist paramilitaries on his life. It is understood the attack arose from a continuing fallout with the east Belfast UVF.
At around 1am on Monday a gunman approached a car Hamilton was sitting in and opened fire with a hand gun, hitting him in the leg. He discharged himself from hospital within hours of the attack and is currently in hiding from loyalists.
In 2002 his parents’ house in east Belfast was targeted in a bomb blast. Hamilton, who was upstairs at the time, escaped injury and has since moved home several times under death threat from the UVF. He was released from prison within the past month having served a sentence for drugs offences.
Hamilton was reportedly lured to the Whitehill estate in Bangor in the early hours of Monday under false pretences.
The driver of the car, a 24-year-old Catholic man from Craigavon, was hit three times in the chest. Despite the seriousness of his injuries he also discharged himself from hospital yesterday against the advice of doctors. He told journalists he felt his life was under threat in the hospital despite being under police guard.
The attack comes after the east Belfast UVF attempted to murder care worker Jemma McGrath in September last year, shooting her five times.
The latest attack sparked renewed calls for the British government to admit the group is not observing a ceasefire. However, British officials have refused to comment on the attack.
GAA CLUB TARGETED
Loyalists were also blamed for a series of blasts at the grounds of Cloney Gaels’ GAA ground outside the County Antrim village of Aghohill on Saturday.
Up to three loud bangs were heard by people living close by at around 12.20am on Saturday. The remains of one or more “crude” pipe-bomb devices were later found and.
The device caused scorch damage to an outside wall of the clubrooms and a broken window to the Acorn Centre building which is used by the Cloney Rural Development Association.
The club has been attacked numerous times before but the club official said they “won’t let it stop us”.
“I don’t know what they were trying to achieve. The building is used by all sides of the community,” he added.
The club was due to host its first ever senior county football match the following day, an event which went ahead as planned.
Around 300 had made the journey to the tiny ground on a normally quiet country lane outside Ahoghill.
Ulster GAA president Martin McAviney described the club as “a strong family focused volunteer sports club that contributes significantly to its local community”.
“An attack on any community facility, in particular one that has a significant youth provision, is shameful and reprehensible,” he said.
The attack followed the controversially lenient sentencing of the last man convicted of a sectarian pipe bomb in the north Antrim area.
A loyalist who made and planted bombs at St Paul’s Catholic Primary School in Ahoghill, Roger Casement’s GAA ground in Portglenone and the community centre targeted again on Saturday received a reprimand and a community service order following his conviction last month.
There was also a pipe-bomb attack on a house in a nationalist estate in Newry, County Armagh on Wednesday night. A family of five escaped injury when a pipe bomb exploded outside their home in the Patrician Park estate, off the Dublin Road. The explosion happened at about 21:20 GMT on Wednesday. The family, a couple and their three children, were at home at the time but were not hurt.